SAN DIEGO (CN) – Attorneys for a young, deported “Dreamer” turned up the pressure Monday in an amended federal complaint, demanding that the 23-year-old man be returned to the United States.
Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez was deported in the middle of the night on Feb. 18-19, after Border Patrol agents approached him as he walked home from a friend’s home in Calexico.
Montes was “stopped for no apparent legal reason” and detained, his attorneys said. Montes, who was brought to the United States when he was 9, said the Border Patrol should have known about his DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status and his right to be in the United States when they took his fingerprints and found his “alien number,” but deported him anyway.
Montes was legally in the United States and authorized to work, as a Dreamer, or DACA recipient.
In the first federal complaint, on April 18, Montes’ attorneys sought documents under the Freedom of Information Act about his arrest and expedited late-night deportation.
In the amended complaint, his attorneys demanded the documents again, and said his deportation was unconstitutional, and violated a February 2016 agreement between the United States and Mexico, which prohibits Mexican citizens from being deported between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. to “protect Mexican citizens from being returned to Mexico at unsafe times.”
When Montes tried to re-enter the United States on Feb. 19 the Border Patrol arrested him again, despite having his alien number, which should have alerted them to his DACA status.
None of the records the Border Patrol has provided mention his DACA status, according to the lawsuit.
An expedited removal order has not been produced and many of the documents are heavily redacted, including the names of the agents who approved the expedited removal order, “which are relevant to determining whether proper procedure was followed,” according to the amended complaint.
“Mr. Montes must be returned to the United States and his DACA status must be restored forthwith as there was no legal basis for his expulsion from the United States on February 18-19, 2017, which also invalidates the February 20, 2017 expedited removal order,” the lawsuit states.
Nor have Customs or the Border Patrol provided any documents or records indicating Montes agreed to voluntary departure, according to the complaint.
Montes says he never saw an immigration judge or received legal assistance before he was deported, nor was he able to present his DACA paperwork and work authorization, which was valid until 2018. He says that before he was deported he told at least one agent that he was authorized to live and work in the United States.
Among the claims in the amended complaint are that U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security violated his constitutional right to due process and violated the Immigration and Nationality Act by denying him a hearing before an immigration judge.
“CBP officers had, or should have had, the electronic means of verifying Mr. Montes’ identity and his DACA status, failed to make such identifications, and/or otherwise ignored that Mr. Montes was authorized to remain in the United States,” the complaint states.
His attorneys say he must be returned to the United States because he was illegally deported
He was dropped off at the U.S.-Mexico border at around 1 a.m. and was not given any copies of documents related to his deportation. Montes says he was essentially deserted in Mexico with nowhere to go. The friends Montes was with that night drove across the border to bring him his wallet and take him to a family member’s house in Mexico.
He is staying in Mexico with family, according to the amended complaint.
Montes is represented by Mónica Ramírez Almadani with Covington & Burling in Los Angeles.
“We initially sought an answer to one simple question: What happened to Juan Manuel?” Ramírez said in a statement.
“The government’s response to date has been woefully inadequate. Their minimal responses have made only one thing clear: that Juan Manuel should never have been taken from his home in this manner.”
The complaint accuses the Department of Homeland Security of “trying the case in the press” when it issued a public statement after the lawsuit was filed in April, claiming Montes had allowed his DACA status to lapse and that it had expired in 2015.
The DHS then retracted the statement, saying Montes had renewed his DACA status but that he had violated it by leaving the country without approval. DHS did not indicate when Montes had left the country or where he went, which would have invalidated his DACA status.
No hearing dates have been set in the case.